Technology Integration:  Faculty Spotlight

Truffin pic 6.18

Dr. Sherry Truf­fin

Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish

Direc­tor of Hon­ors Pro­gram


In his clas­sic book on how new ideas spread via dif­fer­ent media over time, Dif­fu­sion of Inno­va­tion, Jour­nal­ism and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion scholar Everett Rogers iden­ti­fied 5 seg­ments of tech­nol­ogy adop­tion: inno­va­tors, early adopters, early major­ity, late major­ity, and lag­gards. Like most peo­ple, I am in the mid­dle groups: not strongly averse to change, but not the first to invest time in learn­ing a new tech­nol­ogy. I keep myself very busy with lots of ini­tia­tives and projects, and I can be impa­tient with my own learn­ing curve. I must be con­vinced that a new tech­nol­ogy is worth my time and energy before I try it.

Hav­ing said this, I find a wide range of tech­nolo­gies valu­able in my work. For exam­ple, I use not only to check stu­dent work for pla­gia­rism, but also to grade papers elec­tron­i­cally. In addi­tion to typ­ing com­ments into the paper and using elec­tronic rubrics, I record voice com­ments of up to 3 min­utes on each paper. I want to con­nect with my stu­dents as peo­ple, and I feel that voice com­ments make the feed­back more acces­si­ble and per­sonal.

In class, I some­times use a free ‘Poll Every­where’ account to cre­ate and admin­is­ter anony­mous sur­veys. Stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate in these sur­veys using their smart phones, and results appear on the screen in the front of the class­room. These polls can serve as great ice-break­ers and dis­cus­sion starters, and they can also give me feed­back on what stu­dents do and do not under­stand. Stu­dents like the polls because anonymity affords them some safety and free­dom. On very rare occa­sions, stu­dents have writ­ten odd or inap­pro­pri­ate responses to open-ended poll ques­tions, but for the most part, the sur­veys improve stu­dent engage­ment, encour­age mean­ing­ful reflec­tion, and pro­vide use­ful infor­ma­tion.

I also believe that I should adopt new tech­nolo­gies as a way of mod­el­ing ‘life­long learn­ing’ for my stu­dents. I often find myself rec­om­mend­ing to advisees in the Eng­lish depart­ment that they pur­sue minors or develop skills that com­ple­ment their lib­eral arts train­ing and enhance their mar­ketabil­ity for a wide range of careers. For exam­ple, I sug­gest that they take a minor in a Busi­ness field or in one of the Sci­ences. Along this line, I also sug­gest that they get com­fort­able with dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies like Word­Press. Hav­ing made this rec­om­men­da­tion mul­ti­ple times, I decided to cre­ate a Word­Press site myself to find out how dif­fi­cult or easy it was. I don’t update my site very often or write many blog posts, but I do upload course syl­labi, pro­vide use­ful links, and share infor­ma­tion about myself on the site. I feel more com­fort­able rec­om­mend­ing to stu­dents that they learn Word­Press now that I have done so myself.

In the future, I plan to do more in my classes with soft­ware that encour­ages col­lab­o­ra­tion, like Black­board and Google Docs. Right now, I use Black­board pri­mar­ily as a depos­i­tory for hand­outs, links, etc., but I know that it can do more.”- Dr. Sherry R. Truf­fin